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Where do stories come from? Sometimes we have to travel to find them, journeying within or experiencing what happens in our paths along the way. Recently I was taking a new book, Abuelo, to Argentina, to people who had inspired it.
People arrive, events occur, that later become essential stories in each of our lives. Clearly, what becomes important is not the same for each person. But often, the stories that happen while we are young stay with us, and can help carry us through the rest of our lives. For my friend Aldo, who is Argentinean, riding La Pampa, the wide plains and foothills of Argentina when he was a boy with his “Abuelo Gaucho”—Grandfather Cowboy—has given him stories, a relationship and a strong place to return to that have helped him ride free through the years.
Granddaughter Victoria and her father Ricardo read Abuelo for the first time.
Aldo’s great grandfather Redmond arrived from Ireland in the 1840′s to a land that “had a lot of beef.” Argentines come in all colors and with names from many cultural backgrounds–from English to Italian, Lebanese to northern European, not just the Hispanic surnames that many associate with Latin America. Aldo explained to me that the popular way to address someone in a friendly way, saying “Che”— something akin to “hello friend”— likely comes from a Guarani Indian word.Like the US, South America is a quilt built of many cultures, from Indian to European to African, and more. But back to Aldo and his young days riding the range with Abuelo Gaucho, that first inspired me to write Abuelo.
As a boy, Aldo lived in a small town in La Pampa where raising cattle was a major enterprise. Cowboys— called gauchos— rode through the streets and sometimes brought herds to load onto the nearby trains. Aldo’s father worked for the railroad. Aldo would see the gauchos in town, and one older gaucho who knew his family well would say to Aldo that he should learn to ride a horse and the ways of the gauchos, that he would teach him. With the permission of Aldo’s family, on Sundays, the gaucho’s day off, the old gaucho began to teach Aldo— first to ride, how to guide and talk to the horse, how to find his way securely on the pampas. Over the years they rode out, the old gaucho on his horse, and Aldo on his own. Grandfather, or Abuelo, Redmond had died before Aldo was born, and so the old gaucho became like a grandfather to Aldo.
Arthur gives Aldo a copy of Abuelo
When Aldo grew up, he moved away from the small town of Roberts and “Abuelo Gaucho” to the city of Rosario to find work at a newspaper, and eventually for a bank. Throughout many changes, Aldo could return to La Pampa and Abuelo Gaucho in his mind. At a bank meeting that was droning on for hours, Aldo, who had been very active and successful in his work, was silent for a time. When someone at the meeting looked at him being so quiet and asked “where is Aldo?” a friend who knew him well said, “he is on La Pampa.” Throughout his life, he has found strength there.
Now in his eighties, Aldo says that relationships between people are most important. His daughter and her family, his grandchildren live nearby. They know some of the great stories of their Abuelo Aldo, and his wife, Abuela Delia, who is a wonderful artist. Among the drawings I admired in their home was one of a gaucho, which thanks to Delia I now have with me. More tales there. I watched as Aldo saw and read Abuelo for the first time.He smiled at connections to places and relationships he has known so well. When I visited granddaughter Victoria’s school, the students, who see gauchos still, recognized the story and beautiful pictures drawn by Raúl Colón, cheered, and raced to tell new tales they found in their own lives— a fountain of youth and stories.
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Arthur Dorros views being a writer as like being a traveling detective. He finds ideas all around. He learned Spanish while living in Latin America, and many of his stories, such as Abuelo, grow from those experiences. Arthur is the author of many books for children, including Julio’s Magic, a CLASP Américas Award Commended Title; Papá and Me, a Pura Belpré Honor Book, and the popular Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book Ant Cities. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
I tuned into ESPN the other night, clicking away at my laptop as I waited for the Stanford-North Carolina women’s basketball game to begin. The end of the Louisville-Maryland contest was on. There was about a minute left, and Louisville was losing by 10 points, which pretty much guaranteed Maryland the win. But wait. A Louisville player, number 23, floated in a terrific three-point shot with 30 seconds left. Then the same player hit another three-pointer with 18 seconds left. And yet another with five seconds left. Maryland had made two foul shots during the Louisville run, and the score was now 76-73. But it was Louisville’s ball. One more three-pointer would send the game into overtime.
I’m a sucker for an athlete who performs well under pressure, so I put down my laptop and stared at the screen. The announcers were full of praise for the Louisville player, a senior named Shoni Schimmel. I have rarely seen anyone with a smoother, more poetic stroke. When Maryland took a timeout before the game's last play, I went back to my computer and Googled her.
I admit I don’t follow college basketball as much as I should. If I did, I would have known that Shoni, and her sister Jude, who also plays for the University of Louisville, are a genuine phenomenon. Their games attract thousands of people who drive from all over the U.S. and Canada to see them. The sisters are Native Americans who grew up on the Umatilla reservation in Pendleton, Oregon. Their success has galvanized Native fans and even attracted a filmmaker, who made a documentary about them titled Off the Rez.
As I read about the Schimmel sisters, I thought, “This is a great story. I should write it.” You probably know that I’ve made a career bringing the true tales of athletes and other bold and brilliant women to the mainstream. As first Shoni and then Jude graduate from college and enter the WNBA, their journeys should have the makings of a great book.
But then I wondered, “Should I write it?” In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about the underrepresentation of people of color in children’s books. The postings on multicultural literature on the listserv of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, were coming fast and furious the entire month of February. A few weeks later, Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers wrote companion essays in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times under the title, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”
One of the strands on the CCBC listserv focused on who actually writes books with characters or subjects of color, and as a corollary, who shouldwrite those books. A number of posters were pretty adamant that they thought books were more authentic—and by extension more acceptable—when they were written by members of the groups they portrayed. By that logic, a book about the Schimmel sisters would be best by a Native person. But why should authors be limited by their backgrounds? I’ve written more than a dozen books, including three biographies, and I’ve never written one with a main character who shares my Jewish heritage. For me, part of the joy of writing nonfiction is getting to explore new worlds while developing the context to tell the story.
That’s what I was thinking as I read many of the CCBC posts. And now I’m finally putting it into words. People expressed a valid concern about getting a more diverse pool of authors (and editors) producing children’s books, but I don’t feel that any authors should be dissuaded from tackling any topics that ignite their passions. Every voice is valid and every perspective is worth considering as we inspire kids' curiosity about and understanding of the world around them.
For the record, Louisville didn’t win the game, despite an inspired play that put the ball in Schimmel’s hands for one more three-point attempt. She shot, and the ball hit the rim and ricocheted away as time ran out. It was Shoni’s last college game, but hopefully the prelude to an exciting professional career. Perhaps someone will write a book about Shoni and her sister one day. Perhaps it will be me.
I am happy to send you this message to let you know that, with the help of former publisher of HarperCollins' Latino imprint and current CEO of Mamiverse Rene Alegría's help, yesterday, we launched Mamiverse Books, the only site currently available to promote children's books and reading directly to Latina moms. Take a look: http://www.mamiverse.com/life/mamiverse-books/
This site is the culmination of many years of work in this area, and more than anything else, I hope that it will serve as a valuable resource for first and foremost Latino parents, as well as librarians, book store owners and educators looking for appropriate books for their children. While I do plan on reviewing some non-latino books that I think Latina moms should know about, the strongest emphasis will be placed on reviewing and promoting the work of Latino authors to what we hope will be a broad audience interested in YOUR books. Please join me in this effort by spreading the word in any way you can. Facebook, Tweet, Blog(a), or even that age-old medium email, would be great!
Thank you in advance for your support. Let's hope that this is just the beginning!
National Pledge Drive for Family Commitment to Reading
NEW YORK (October 1st, 2012)--Mamiverse.com, the premiere website for Latina moms and families, announced today the launch of a new book section, Mamiverse Books. The first non-trade oriented, yet comprehensive digital resource for Latino parents wanting to know more about books that accurately reflect the U.S. Latino experience, Mamiverse Books creates a tool for parents who want to foster the love of reading as a road to their children’s academic success. Comprised of book reviews written by industry experts and librarians nationwide, Mamiverse Books will offer author interviews, features and more. Children’s categories will include Picture Books, Middle Grade Books, Young Adult Books and Bilingual books.
In conjunction with the launch of Mamiverse Books, and tied to National Book Month, Mamiverse.comalso announces Mamiverse Reads, an online pledge drive for Latino families that commits them to making reading and books a life-long priority. Families that pledge will receive a formal document they can printout stating their new commitment, along with the latest book news and reviews.
Spearheading Mamiverse Books is renowned Latino children’s book expert, Adriana Dominguez.
“Studies have shown that reading paves the way for future academic success,” says Dominguez. “It is essential that we provide families with quality resources that specifically address the needs of Latino parents who want direction on how to incorporate books and reading into their children’s lives. The sooner children are exposed to books, and encouraged to read on a consistent basis, the more likely it is that they will do well in school.”
“We are very lucky to have Adriana lead this important initiative,” says Founder and CEO of Mamiverse.comRene Alegria. “Our aim is to make books and reading the basis for a life-long commitment to goal-oriented success. Families who read together, achieve together.”
Hispanic Children in Education, by the Numbers:
● One out of four babies born in the U.S. is Latino. (U.S. Census)
● One in four kids currently in public school are Hispanic. (Pew Center Research)
● 48.8% of Hispanics 25 and older do not have a high school education, 2010. (American Community Survey)
● Percentage of 18-24 year old Hispanics in college reached record share of 16.5%. (Pew Center Research)
● There are one million Hispanics with advanced degrees. (Pew Center Research)
● Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority with 50.5 million people. (U.S. Census)
● Projected Hispanic population by 2050, 132.8 million. (U.S. Census)
(Adriana Dominguez is available for interviews)
About Adriana Dominguez
Adriana Dominguez is considered an expert in the field of children books appearing in the media and on publishing panels nationwide to speak on the topic of books and the Latino community. She has 15 years of experience in publishing, most recently as Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she managed the children’s division of the Latino imprint, Rayo. Prior to that, she was Children’s Reviews Editor at Críticas magazine, published by Library Journal. Adriana has also worked as an editorial consultant for children’s and adult publishers, on English and Spanish language books. A professional translator, who has worked on a number of translations of best-selling and award-winning children’s books, she has also worked as a literary agent for some time. Adriana is mom to a very active and curious toddler who keeps her busy, and makes her exceptionally happy.
Mamiverse.com is the premiere site dedicated to Latina moms and families. Launched in July of 2011, Mamiverse.com was created to better inform this rapidly growing online community. By empowering Latina moms with the tools they need, and by reaching all Hispanic women and their families in the process, Mamiverse.com connects this powerful and passionate group of family-influencers, with a culturally relevant outlet that understands who they are, what they need, and how they think. With a rotating roster of high-profile contributors, and features on news and trends of the day, Mamiverse.com keeps readers engaged and informed. In addition to revolving news coverage, Mamiverse.com addresses a growing list of key topics including: food, health, politics, money, school and style. Twitter Handles: @MAMIVERSE, @MamiverseBooks
Kaolin, the author of Talking About Race (publisher: Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc.), contacted me about her book, and I thought it sounded so interesting that I told her to send it to me. And I’m so glad she did. This post is going to be a little different than my normal posts about books you can use with students (you could probably use this with teens and college-age students)–I am going to share the book with you and tell you how to use it, but I will show you examples straight from the pages of the book. I also want to share with you a little of the author’s story. So, here we go. . .
Kaolin was born Patricia Anne Graham, and she legally changed her name to Kaolin with no surname in 1991. She has had many jobs in her life: a waitress, a singer, a writer, and a teacher. She’s worked in adolescent programs with teens with disabilities and in politics. She has also worked on a tree farm. In 1994, she designed and taught a course titled, “Let’s Talk About Race: Confronting Racism Through Education,” which after many years became this book I’m talking about today.
The book is divided into seven chapters with a “writing interval” at the beginning. It is written for “white people working to achieve racial equality in their lives, and to readers of color who would like insight into psychological and social experiences white people encounter.” Personally, I find this perspective fascinating–as a white woman, I never thought it appropriate or even necessary to address the concerns and topics that Kaolin discusses in her book. But after reading it, I see that it is, and I saw myself and my feelings in the pages of her book–especially when I was younger. I can see youth groups, book clubs, college classes, and more reading and studying this book. It will start conversations that need to be had. I hope that I can discuss these issues with my stepson soon and with my daughter when she is older. And as the cover states, it does not just have to be white people–it can be all races working together.
As Kaolin states in her introduction about why she wrote it: “Because learning how to talk about racism is hard. Most of us ‘react’ to it first. . . The lack of thought that has gone into many white people’s position about racism is amazing to me. . . Talking About Race meets that need.”
She begins with recognizing racism with lists that describe what a racist believes and with a section that even addresses, “How do you know you whether or not you are a racist?” The next chapter is titled “Resisting Racism,” which can actually bring up many uncomfortable feelings–especially when children/teens are faced with racism from parents or other loved ones, and they don’t know how to confront these beliefs or even act around the person. Kaolin gives some ideas for figuring this out. She continues this theme in the “Defenses and Insecurities” chapter.
The book goes on through real-life examples and encouraging prose, as well as pages of thinking questions with room to write answers, to face racism head on and understand how it can affect people in a family and in a community. Kaolin forces people to also look at themselves and how behaviors can either promote or stop racism. It’s not a book intended for people to feel bad about themselves or members of their family. It’s a book written to get people talking and thinking and hopefully changing hurtful behaviors.
I highly recommend using Talking About Race with teens and college-age students. I think it is perfect for a home school group, a church youth group, a community group like Boys and Girls Club, and more. It’s well-done!
Here are a few of the questions from it that get adults and children USING the book:
If you woke up this morning and there had been no racism in your life, how would your life have been different?
Have you ever feared someone because of his or her color? Have you been fearful of anyone because of your color?
With respect to your own color, would you say you were born lucky?
Do you think white people have no problems?
In order to correct a racist situation, I would need. . .
Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting with a literacy expert who was SUPER involved with the creation of the Common Core Standards (!!!!!), and she gave me some important feedback about the Appendix B supplement I posted last week. To refresh your memory, what we’ve done is compiled a supplement to Appendix B that includes both contemporary literature and authors/characters of color, and that also meets the criteria (complexity, quality, range) used by the authors of the Common Core. We were lucky enough to have this literacy expert take a look at our supplement, and she gave some great suggestions:
The texts selected for Read Aloud can be outside the text complexity bands for each grade cluster.
Texts that are Read Aloud in lower grades can be read as Independent Reading in upper grades.
We’ve incorporated these ideas into our Appendix B supplement. So, without further ado, click here for a PDF of our new and improved multicultural supplement to the Common Core’s Appendix B.
Know who else is excited about the updated Appendix B list? This guy:
Recently The New York Times paired articles by Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers, discussing the lack of representation of people of color in children’s literature. Those excellent articles—which pointed out that in the long history of children’s literature we haven’t made much progress—caught the attention of best-selling author Jennifer Weiner, who started the #colormyshelf hashtag on Twitter asking for suggestions of diverse books that she could go purchase for her daughter. What a wonderful way to bring attention to what parents can do!
Just because diverse books don’t always show up front and center in bookstores doesn’t mean they don’t exist.Here’s a list of places to find great diverse books for young readers. Buy them, read them, recommend them. Showing demand for diverse books is one of the best ways to encourage the publication of more of them!
1. Publishers: Several small publishers (us included) focus on diverse books. They’re a great place to start, and you can usually buy books from them directly, order them through an online retailer like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or ask your local bookstore to order them (which also displays a demand for diverse titles):
Lee & Low Books (diverse books for young readers featuring a range of cultures) Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low (diverse middle grade and young adult speculative fiction) Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low (bilingual English/Spanish picture books)
Cinco Puntos Press (adult and children’s literature, and multicultural and bilingual books from Texas, the Mexican-American border, and Mexico)
Just Us Books (black interest and multicultural books for children and young adults)
Roadrunner Press (fiction and nonfiction for young readers focusing on the American West and America’s Native Nations)
Groundwood Books (Canadian publisher of books for young readers with a focus on diverse voices)
2. Blogs That Recommend Diverse Books: There are some great bloggers out there who do the hard work of seeking out, reading, and recommending diverse children’s books, so you don’t have to! Just hop over to their blogs to find great new books to add to your collection:
3. Awards: If you’re simply looking for the best of the best that’s been published each year, awards are the place. Books that win these awards have been vetted by experts (mostly librarians) so you can expect them to be top quality, beautiful, and culturally accurate.
4. Bookstores: If you prefer to purchase your books through good old-fashioned browsing, there are several great independent bookstores that make it a point to stock diverse books. Below are a few we’ve been to, or that have been recommended to us by readers. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by to support them!
Rainbow in Coffee Area in Colombia 2008 by Ben Bowes www.flickr.com
Through my job with WOW! Women On Writing, I get to interview many interesting writers. One writer I recently interviewed, Caleb Collier, won 2nd place in WOW!’s flash fiction contest. (To see the interview, click here.) But I’m not writing about him today because he placed in a flash fiction contest. I am writing about Caleb because he brought my attention to a nonprofit organization he works for called, Give Us Names.
According to their website, Give Us Names “is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of displaced Colombians. Our goal is to tell their stories in such a way that those who hear them will not rest until displacement ends, justice is brought to the perpetrators, and the rights of the displaced are recognized and protected.” I completely agree with them that this is the way to touch people and to get people to help–you have to tell personal stories. It’s the same principal the authors in Half the Sky used to draw attention to the atrocities that are STILL happening to women and girls around the world. Give Us Names is making a series of films about these displaced Colombians, and they plan to distribute their films everywhere to get the word out about what is going on. Part of the problem for so many victims is that people aren’t aware that these issues are even a problem. Education, as I’ve said before, is one of the first keys to stopping the violence and crime around the world.
You can watch a heartbreaking, 3-minute video that Give Us Names has created here. The video introduces you to what Give Us Names is trying to do–tell each person’s story, give these people a name and a voice, and draw attention to a problem, so that people can work together to solve a problem in Colombia. Fiinally, if this touches you, Give Us Names has a donation spot on their website, and you can also buy t-shirts.
I also have a couple of announcements today. . .
1. On Friday, I will be reviewing and providing activities/discussion ideas for Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. And even better yet. . .I will be holding a comment contest for a chance to win this popular book! So, check back on Friday–even if you’ve already read it, you can win it for a library or classroom donation!
2. At the National Writing For Children Center, Suzanne Lieurance has so many creative and affordable ways to promote you and your book (if you are a published author). She is a genius, really! Click on the banner below for more information. Get the word out about your children’s book, so teachers, parents, and kids can start reading it and using it!
For the first time this year, we participated in the Sharjah Book Fair, which hosts nearly 800 publishing houses from around the world. We are regulars at Bologna, Frankfurt, and Beijing, but the Middle East is a new opportunity for us. The plan had been to work with our friends at Combined Book Exhibit and send 30-40 books we felt would be best suited for Arab countries. CBE would handle the rest.
The plan changed—rather dramatically— when we learned that How Many Donkeys?: An Arabic Counting Tale, by Margaret Read MacDonald with Nadia Jameel Taibah, and illustrated by Carol Liddiment, had won the first “Award for the Best English Language Children’s Book exhibited at the SIBF.” The award would be presented by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi at the Fair and included an all-expenses paid trip for company President, John Quattrocchi. So off he went, excited to see the Fair and the country.
One of the key differences that John noted about the Sharjah Fair and the other International fairs is that it was a mix of a consumer show (where parents, teachers, and librarians push shopping carts around the hall making purchases) and a trade show (where publishers introduce new product to vendors and opinion makers). We sent 5 copies each of about 40 books to the show. We exhibited with the Combined Book Exhibit, who then sold the books through a local retailer: Jashanmal Bookstores.
John accepted the award – which included a very heavy trophy (the general response here at the office was something along the lines of “Holy Moley”), a certificate and a cash prize of approximately $2500. The awards ceremony would be very familiar with most people: a banquet of 500 people at round tables of 8-10 people. The ceremony was conducted in Arabic, but there were headphones for translation. His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi was the key note speaker and with a new book of his own available, he also signed a few books after the ceremony.
The Sheikh, as leader of Sharjah, started the Sharjah Fair 29 years ago to promote literacy in his country, as well as the regional publishing industry. In fact, they have a very high literacy rate for the region, especially among women—about 90% for women and 80% for men. The inclusion of the new children’s book award is a continuation of his mission.
Sharjah is one of the United Arab Emirates, so on the trip John also visited locations in both Sharjah and nearby Dubai. Both emirates are very modern, with Dubai being the better known and more Western. I was, of course, ve
Hola La Bloga readers, today I want to share some curriculum guides developed for my books. You can use these ideas in the classroom or at home.
From North to South/Del Norte al Sur
A picture book (suggested for ages 4-8 and older), From North to South/Del Norte al Sur (by Rene Colato Lainez) tells the story of Jose and his Papa, who are going to visit Jose’s mother who is living just across the border in Tijuana, after being arrested at work for not having papers giving her permission to work in the United States.
Cheryll Wallace is a Religious Education Director at First Unitarian Church of Omaha, former PSD Board member, and leader of the PSD GRACE (Growing Racial And Cultural Equity) Team.
The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez
Move over, Tooth Fairy! El Ratón Pérez is in town!
Most children in the U.S. are familiar with the Tooth Fairy, but children in Spain and Latin America grow up with a different tradition. In these regions, an adventurous mouse, El Ratón Pérez, collects children’s lost teeth from their pillows.
This curriculum guide was created by LEIGH COURTNEY, Ph.D. She teaches first and second grade in the Global Education program at a public elementary school in San Diego, California. She holds both master’s and doctoral degrees in education, with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction.
I would like to welcome, Patti Wheeler, co-author of the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt adventure series to my blog today. Patti is giving away a copy of the first book in the series, Botswana.To win a copy of this well-written book in “journal-style” that kids will just eat up, please leave a comment or question for Patti by next Sunday, January 30 at 8 pm below in the comments section. One winner (who lives in either the United States of Canada) will be chosen and a book will be mailed to her. Middle-grade readers, boys and girls, will love this book!
On to the interview. . .
Patti Wheeler feels her greatest accomplishment is being the mother to twins Gannon and Wyatt. Her priority has been to educate, nurture, and to help the boys develop the important qualities of generosity, leadership, and compassion. For years, it has been Patti’s goal to create a children’s book series that instills the spirit of exploration in young people. Travels with Gannon and Wyatt is the realization of her dream. (Future books include adventures in the Great Bear Rainforest, Egypt and the Serengeti.) In addition to the book series, Patti is the founder of Claim Stake Productions/Publishing, executive producer and director of the TV pilot Travels with Gannon and Wyatt Off the Beaten Path: Egypt and co-wrote, with Keith Hemstreet, the screenplay Botswana, which was an official selection of the 2010 Beverly Hills Film Festival. Patti lives in Aspen, Colorado with her husband and sons.
The first book set in Botswana introduces you to Gannon and Wyatt and the journal format as the brothers find themselves faced with a poacher while on an African Safari. Will Gannon and Wyatt stop the poacher in time? A perfect book for boys (and girls!).
Margo: Welcome, Patti, thanks for visiting with me about Travels with Gannon and Wyatt. Where did you get the idea for Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Botswana?
Patti: I got the idea one year while traveling with my family. I was thinking about all the fascinating and wonderful places we were visiting each year. We wanted to share our incredible adventures with the world, and what better way of doing that than through books and video.
Margo: I completely agree. What other books are planned for the series?
Patti: The books that are already planned for the series are Great Bear Rainforest, Egypt, Greenland, Iceland, Tanzania, and there are six more being discussed (including possibly China, India, the South Pacific, and the American West).
Margo: WOW! Sounds awesome! Who are the perfect readers for this book and the sequels?
Patti: 4th-12th graders who are interested in travel or adventure–our sweet spot is grades 4 through 8.
Margo: What can children learn from reading Travels with Gannon & Wyatt?
Patti: Children can learn that the world is their classroom, and “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” (Mark Twain). Children can also learn to explore, help their communities, and embrace diversity through philanthropy.
Margo: I love that Mark Twain quote! What are two or three activities children can do that come from reading this book?
Patti: This book offers students the opportunity to read and turn in book reports in school. Children are introduced to the Youth Exploration Society (Y.E.S.) in the book, which promotes giving back to communities, encourages exploration, and supports a clean and healthy environment. Also, reading this book encourages readers to ge
El día de los niños/el día de los Libros: Building a Culture of Literacy in Your Community by Jeanette Larson
• Pub. Date: May 2011 • Publisher: ALA Editions • Format: Paperback , 138pp • ISBN-13: 9780838935996 • ISBN: 0838935990
A celebration of children, families, and reading held annually since 1996, Children's Day/Book Day, known as Día, emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. In anticipation of Día's fifteenth anniversary, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) presents a collection of the best of its Día programming ideas, offering • A wealth of ready-to-use programs, easily adaptable for a variety of cultures • Cultural competency training tips to encourage outreach to minority populations • Interviews with library directors about the best ways to heighten awareness of cultural and literacy issues Complemented by numerous bilingual book suggestions, this resource is perfect for collection development, early literacy storytimes, and year-round program planning.
Celebrating Cuentos: Promoting Latino Children's Literature and Literacy in Classrooms and Libraries by Jamie Campbell Naidoo (Editor)
• Pub. Date: November 2010 • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated • Format: Hardcover , 381pp • Series: Children's and Young Adult Literature Reference • ISBN-13: 9781591589044 • ISBN: 1591589045
Latinos are the fastest growing and largest ethnic minority in the United States. The number of Latino children is at a historic high. As a result, librarians and teachers in the United States must know how to meet the informational, cultural, and traditional literacy needs of this student demographicgroup. An ideal way to overcome this challenge is by providing culturally accurate and authentic children's literature that represents the diversity of the Latino cultures. Much more than simply a topical bibliography, this book details both historical and current practices in educating Latino children; explains why having quality Latino children's literature in classrooms and libraries is necessary for the ethnic identity development of Latino children; and offers a historical overview of Latino children's literature in America. Web resources of interest to educators working with Latino children are also included.
Multicultural Literature and Response: Affirming Diverse Voices by Lynn Atkinson Smolen, Ruth A. Oswald Ph.D.
Kindness speaks the words, Your heart could never speak. Your wings hold me up, And give me strength when I am weak. The warmth of your protection, Brings music to my heart. You open up the doors, You show me where to start. ~ Anne Marie Cline In last week’s Bur Bur and Friends multicultural [...]
*Middle-grade historical fiction with Christian themes (WWII)
*13-year-old girl as main character
*Rating: Last Page in the Diary will really appeal to girls who like historical fiction and like writing in their diaries. It is a great book to use in a home school or Christian school setting as so many tweens deal with this question: “How can God let bad things happen?” This book is especially great because it also teaches about history!
Short, short summary:
(From the Guardian Angel Publishing website (sorry! I am pressed for time tonight.): “Thirteen-year-old Patricia (Pat) Kelly bargains with God. If He will bring her best friend Mike (Yoshi Mizuki) home from a desert (Japanse Internment) prison camp and make things like they were before the war, maybe she can start trusting Him again. The war ends, but hate and persecution continue.” (There’s also a part of this book written in journal style!)
So what do I do with this book?
1. If students do not know much about the period of history this book covers, then have them research different things mentioned in the book, such as Pearl Harbor Day or the Japanese Internment Camps. Students can write reports, do Power Point presentations, create posters, or some other way to share information with students.
2. Have readers ever felt the way Pat or Mike do in the novel–either with their relationship with God or as a victim of bullying/racism? These are great journal writing topics and discussion topics for tweens. Through the characters in this book, tweens may feel more comfortable talking about and/or writing about these issues and comparing/contrasting their experiences with the ones in the novel.
3. If students were involved in an essay contest, what would they write about? And why? You can even hold your own essay contest if you want to. . .:)
I have so many books to review that it’s time to do a round up! First, I must apologize to all three of these lovely authors that it has taken me this long to mention your books and showcase them on my blog. I am working on a new, better system (aren’t we all?), so that I will not get so backed up in the future. Anyway, let’s get on to these lovely books. I will share a brief summary, who should read, and a couple discussion points for them. Here we go!
Chigger by Raymond Bial is a well-written book with a touch of humor about a new girl moving into town (in Southern Indiana) in the 1950s, and she is not readily accepted, especially moving in April and starting school “about seven months late.” She insists on being called Eddie and on wearing jeans to school, and she cusses (word of warning–read this book before your children/students to make sure you are okay with language or want to talk to them about it), and fights. So, she’s not your typical girl, which makes her a great literary character! The point of view character has a great voice–he’s a fifth-grade boy, Luke, so this book will appeal to boys (it’s probably more upper mid-grade or tween), and he kind of likes this new girl, which makes him a great character, too. She gets the nickname Chigger from a humorous character, Buzz, because “you’re just a dang bug and you sure get under my skin.”
This book has some serious issues in it and is inspired by actual events. Chigger is obviously poor and always hungry, although she is super independent. She and her mom are running from an abusive father. She is picked on and ostracized for being different and new. It also explores friendship and standing up for what’s right. I see this as the perfect book for a parent and child to read together and discuss because it will bring up issues that the child may be dealing with in a non-threatening way!
The Wild Soccer Bunch Book 3: Zoe the Fearless by Joachim Masannek and illustrated by Jan Brick is part of a series of books titled, The Wild Soccer Bunch. These books are endorsed by a professional soccer player, Landon Donovan, and have quite a bit of merchandise to go with them, which can be found on an extensive website here. In the third super cute book, Zoe’s mother has passed away, and she and her father are moving to Chicago. Zoe wants to play on the boys’ team–not on the girls–and so her father signs her up with the Wild Soccer Bunch, who aren’t too crazy about playing with a girl. She has to prove herself. Plus there’s Grandma, who is busy trying to get Zoe to be more like a girl.
Obviously this is the perfect book for anyone who likes soccer. (There are quite a few illustrations, so this would probably be beg. middle-grade/maybe even chapter book.) I also like it because it showcases girls in sports. We all know girls play and love sports! So why not have a book to celebrate this?! You can discuss all sorts of things with this book, including death and dying, sportsmanship, moving, practice for sports (hard work), individuality, being true to yourself, and more.
Pipper’s Secret Ingredient by Jane Murphy and Allison Fingerhuthand illustrated by Neal Sharp is a delightful chapter book with plenty of illustrations for readers who are ready to step into something harder than a picture book, but still feeling apprehensive about reading novels. Pipper is a dog who blogs! She blogs about food–of course–and the book starts out with her blog. She is actually looking for an interesting blog post topic, and she decides that she will search for a secret ingredient. As she travels around and blogs, she visits some interesting places such as Egypt, New York City, Paris, and the Orient Express. She has her friends, too, a cast of characters who readers are introduced to in the very beginning that help her with her adventure.
This is the perfect book for children to learn more about places all over the world, blogging and using the Internet for research, and what is truly important to an individual. I’m telling you that kids will LOVE THIS BOOK! I love holding it and looking at it. It is so shiny. You definitely don’t want to miss this!
Sometimes when we talk to kids about issues going on in the world, like I wrote about on Monday with my stepson and the visiting priest from Africa who needs money for his church, it is hard for them to understand what we mean by freedom–especially if they live in a free country like the United States. It’s hard for them to imagine that there are places where children don’t have the freedom to go to school or church or the doctor when they are sick. Young children, especially, need concrete examples of what freedom means, especially if they are taking part in any type of donation activity (like collecting pennies for an organization like Loose Change to Loosen Chains).
This book, This is the Dream written by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander and illustrated by James Ransome, is a great picture book that can illustrate the concept of freedom. What I especially like about this bright and colorful book is the way it shows the United States before the Civil Rights movement, then some of the Civil Rights leaders, and then the way the country is now–with freedom for everyone. In the year 2010, the fact that black people used to drink from a separate fountain or ride at the back of the bus might be particularly shocking for our children since less than 50 years later, our president is black.
Here are a few verses from this great book:
“These are the fountains that stand in the square, and the black-and-white signs say who will drink there.”
“These are the leaders whose powerful voices lift up marchers demanding new choices.”
“This is the fountain that stands in the square and the unwritten rule is to take turns and share.”
In order for children to understand what it looks like when there’s not freedom and what it looks like when there is, you can use a picture book like This is the Dream by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander. Then you can explain to them how around the world in the 21st century, there are still people living without freedom, and we are collecting pennies to try and help them. The Civil Rights leaders helped in the United States, and now it’s our turn!
Yesterday, I discussed the book Three Cups of Tea. When I posted the link on my Facebook page, people praised the book, and some people had actually heard Greg Mortenson speak on college campuses. So, if you haven’t read it yet, put it on your to-do list. If you want to share his message with your children or your classroom, then check out this book: Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea.
Not only is the story of Greg Mortenson told simply in this picture book, but the murals by Susan L. Roth are fantastic. Children will love to look at these illustrations over and over again–I do! The story goes like this: The children of Korphe, a village in the Pakistan mountains, have school outside and do their lessons with sticks. A teacher comes to teach them 3 times a week. One day, Dr. Greg stumbles into their village (because he was trying to climb K2 and failed). The villagers keep him there until he recovers. When he leaves, he asks the wisest man, Haji Ali, what he can do to help the village to repay them for their kindness, and Haji Ali says, “Listen to the wind.”
When Greg listens to the wind, he hears the voices of the children outside doing their lessons, and he gets the idea to build them a school. He promises to come back with materials to build a school, and he does. However, he realizes they will need to build a bridge first to get the materials to the remote village, and they do that, too. In the end of the book, the children have a school building, and their teacher can now afford to come every day to teach them.
In the back of the book are real photos of Dr. Greg, the children, and the villagers. There are also facts such as now Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute have built over 131 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They educate 58,000 children–40,000 are girls. Children can also read how in Pakistan and Afghanistan, one penny buys a pencil and $1.00 pays for an education for a month! Students, their families, and/or classrooms are encouraged to check out the Pennies for Peace program at www.penniesforpeace.org.
What some children go through in our world is unbelievable, scary, tragic. It is hard for some of us, especially in the United States and Canada, to imagine how life can be like this–how people can kill one another over religion and race, how people can be so greedy to kill for land or cash crops. But it happens, and children are affected every day.
I found this book, Gervelie’s Journey: A Refugee Diary, at our local library, and I recommend it to everyone. Teachers–share it with your students; parents–share it with your children. It tells the story of Gervelie, who was born in the Republic of Congo and lived in a nice house in Brazzaville, until her family had to flee to safety when fighting broke out in 1997. First, she moved around Africa with her dad, then her mom, and then her grandmother. But whenever she seemed to settle in a new place, trouble started again. In 2001, when fighting occurred in the Ivory Coast, she and her dad fled to Europe. When they finally arrived in England, her dad asked for asylum. In England, Gervelie has been in three different cities, finally settling in Norwich, England.
This book is POWERFUL because it is told in first person–in Gervelie’s words. When the fighting first broke out in Brazzaville, she was 2 years old. When she finally landed at a home with her dad in Norwich, England, she was 9 years old. Can you imagine all of this war, fighting, moving and so on happening to you when you were between the ages of 2 and 9? Can you imagine not seeing or talking to your mom? What about leaving your home and not being able to go back for fear of being killed? All of this has happened to Gervelie.
The other thing that makes this book so powerful is the way that June Allan’s illustrations are mixed with actual photographs of Gervelie and war-torn Africa. Putting a real face with a true story is something that kids and adults WON’T forget.
When you are talking to kids about giving to others or starting service learning projects in your school or home or church, think about sharing books like Gervelie’s Journey because they will help children understand whom they are working for.
SALTYPIE By Tim Tingle Illustrated by Karen Clarkson
Product Details 10-digit ISBN 1-933693-67-3 13-digit ISBN 9781933693675 Format Hardback Language English Page Count 40 Product Dimensions 8.5" x 11" x .25" Publication Date June 1, 2010
A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light
Bee stings on the backside! And that was just the beginning. Tim was about to enter a world of the past, with bullying boys and stones and Indian spirits of long ago. But they were real spirits, real stones, and very real memories…
In this powerful family saga, Choctaw author Tim Tingle tells the story of his family’s move from Oklahoma Choctaw country to Pasadena, Texas. Spanning fifty years, Saltypie describes the problems encountered by his Choctaw grandmother—from her orphan days at an Indian boarding school to hardships encountered in her new home on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Tingle says, “Stories of modern Indian families rarely grace the printed page. Long before I began writing, I knew this story must be told.” Seen through the innocent eyes of a young boy, Saltypie is the story of one family’s efforts to honor the past while struggling to gain a foothold in modern America. More than an Indian story, Saltypie is an American story, of hardships shared and the joy of overcoming.
Tim Tingle, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is a sought-after storyteller for folklore festivals, library conferences, and schools across America. At the request of Choctaw Chief Pyle, Tim tells a story to the tribe every year before Pyle’s State of the Nation Address at the Choctaw Labor Day Gathering. Tim’s previous and often reprinted books from Cinco Puntos Press—Walking the Choctaw Road and Crossing Bok Chitto—received numerous awards nationally, but what makes Tim the proudest is the recognition he receives from the American Indian communities around the country.
Karen Clarkson, a Choctaw tribal member, is a self-taught artist who specializes in portraits of Native Americans. She did not start painting until after her children had left home; she has since been widely acclaimed as a Native American painter. She lives in San Leandro, California.
MR. MENDOZA'S PAINTBRUSH by Luis Alberto Urrea illustrated by Christopher Cardinale
Product Details 10-digit ISBN 1-933693-23-1 13-digit ISBN 9781933693231 Format Paperback Language English Page Count 64 Product Dimensions 7" x 10" x .5" Publication Date June 1, 2010
A popular short story from Urrea's Six Kinds of Sky is now a stunning graphic novel.
Be careful growing up in the green, wet, mango-sweet Mexican village of Rosario, where dead corpses rise up out of the cathedral walls during July when it always floods; where vast silver m
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Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker and illustrated by Stefano Vitale is a poem put to life in a picture book with beautiful, rich illustrations. This powerful text shows children the affects of war and the innocent bystanders from frogs to children to mothers to villagers who are the victims of war. Here’s a small verse from the book:
Though War has a mind of its own/War never knows/Who/It is going/To hit./ Picture a donkey/Peacefully/Sniffing a pile/Of Straw/
This is a book that could upset children, but it is a book to share with them. If they have questions about war or why their moms or dads are away in the service or why their village is being destroyed by soldiers, this book can help start a dialogue. It’s PERFECT for homeschooling, churches, small counseling groups. We can help children around the world who are victims of war when we educate everyone about the affects of war–this book can help do this!
Alice Walker is the author of The Color Purple and is an activist. She has written other books for children such as: There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me, Langston Hughes: American Poet, and Finding the Green Stone.
Here she is in an interview on WNYC radio, reading a section of this book. Very powerful–only about two minutes long, so please take time to watch:
For today’s Monday post, where I like to highlight a book or organization that is spotlighting or helping girls and women around the world, I have chosen Extraordinary Girls (Charlesbridge Publishing). The photos alone are fantastic, showing girls of different ages and races, smiling and doing amazing things. It targets girls in the upper elementary/lower middle school grades and speaks directly to them, which I love!
Extraordinary Girls is divided into different topics such as “Different Ways to Learn,” “Making a Difference,” “Religion and Spirituality,” “The Arts,” “Sports and Play,” and “Friendship.” Within each of these sections are photographs of real live girls doing something positive related to the topic. Also, each section highlights a girl who is active in this field/topic in the real world. Take for example in the “Making a Difference” section, young girls can read about Arlys Endres, from the United States, whom when she was 10 years old became an advocate for “herstory.” This means she wanted to fight for women’s stories–women who were important to American history–to be heard such as Susan B. Anthony. She joined the Susan B. Anthony campaign to reinstall statues of Anthony and two other feminists in the Rotunda (U.S. Capitol building). She wrote more than 2000 letters and raised almost $2,000!
In “The Arts,” Alexandra Nechita is highlighted. She is from Romania and has been painting since she was four years old and creates abstract art where she tries to express herself. By age 11, she published a book of her art work.
The book reminds me a little of a magazine format–which young girls should really like. They can skip to the sections that they are most interested in or read the book from cover to cover. This would be a perfect non-fiction selection for a mother daughter book club or for a fourth grader to do a book report on. I found my copy at our local library or you can order one online! Teachers and homeschoolers, you will LOVE the list of adjectives in the two-page spread after the title page. I would love to see a poster of it hanging in every classroom and library!
Have you ever heard of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library? This literacy program brings free books each month to preschool kids all across the country so that regardless of income, thousands of kids have good books to read. Dolly’s wonderful idea—plus a family Seder where the kids received Jewish-themed books—inspired Harold Grinspoon, a Massachusetts philanthropist. He founded the PJ Library to help families strengthen their Jewish identity.
Every month, the library (“PJ” as in pajamas—for cozy bedtime reading) sends a book with Jewish content to Jewish families with kids aged six months to seven years. The neat thing is that these books, too, are all free—interested families just need to sign up when PJ comes to a participating community.
The Harold Grinspoon Foundation works with local funding partners to provide the books (and one CD of songs each year). The PJ Library is now in over one hundred twenty-five communities coast to coast and in Canada and serves more than sixty thousand families. In four years, the library has given away more than two million books!
We’re delighted that the PJ Library has included several Albert Whitman picture books in its offerings. These include Linda Glaser’s simple and charming Hoppy Hanukkah! and Hoppy Passover! in which two young bunnies observe the holidays with their family; Barbara Reid’s Fox Walked Alone, an unusual take on the Noah’s Ark story, with stunning plasticene art; and Frances Harber’s The Brothers’ Promise, a retelling of a Talmudic tale of brotherly love.
Take a look at some of these great stories. And you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy them!
“A refugee’s life is never an easy one, but it’s especially tough on young people who are robbed of what should be the most formative, promising, and exciting years of their lives. At a time when they should be full of hopes and dreams for the future, they are instead faced with the harsh reality of displacement and privation. . .”
–United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
What I like about this book for middle grade readers is that it gives a voice to the war that students are always hearing about on television–especially in political news lately since the Obama administration is working to get troops out of Iraq. Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees isn’t about soldiers or political agendas or terrorists or presidents–it’s about the innocent victims of any war–children. I also like that this book, like last Monday’s book: Our New Home: Immigrant Children Speak , let’s the children’s voices be heard. The children and teens are telling their own stories.
In Children of War by Deborah Ellis, the author also gives some background to readers before each child’s essay/story, so that readers can understand important issues in the child’s story. For example, in the first story in the book from Hibba, 16, it is important for readers to understand that Islam is divided into different groups just like the Christian religion is (Catholic, Protestant, etc). Two of the Islam groups are Sunni and Shia. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim. In Hibba’s case, her mother is Sunni. Her father is Shia, and they are applying to live in the United States. Readers learn all of this information from Ellis’s introduction. Then, you hear Hibba’s story in her own words–about fleeing to Jordan, about her father being kidnapped and killed, about applying for asylum in the United States. Powerful stuff–especially for middle grade readers.
Here’s a quote from R, 18, that I think says a lot to children and adults. R. is an Iraqi Kurdish teenager living in Canada. He says: “When Canadian kids–the ones who have always been here and have a good life–start complaining to me about the little things that bother them, I just think, ‘You have no idea.’ ” And he lets you know what it’s like for him to be a refugee in his own words. Again–powerful stuff.
Books like Children of War by Deborah Ellis need to be shared with children of all ages. It takes education and understanding to solve these problems that war has created, to break down racial barriers, and to have sympathy/empathy for other people. These are stories of survival from the youngest victims. They can give anyone strength and hope.
When I was able to steal a few minutes on day three from all the scheduled meetings with local publishers, distributors, and agents, I strolled around the exhibition halls a little. The most interesting part of this book fair is that exhibitions are mainly separated into two main sections – the international exhibitors and the domestic Chinese exhibitors. The set up of the international hall (where we were located) was divided by each country with their own pavilions. Upon entering the Chinese hall, visitors were greeted by three floors of local publishing houses, grouped by their provinces, along with special pavilions of India (the Guest of Honor country this year) and Digital. Many provinces had beautiful pavilions with a touch of their local flavors. I will let the photos speak for themselves here.
Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli with illustrations by Caldecott Honor Winner, Kadir Nelson, is about the great Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Muta Maathai, from Kenya. I have written about her on my blog before because this is one woman that I just REALLY admire, and I think her story is important to share with children. She helped Kenyan women and children by suggesting they plant trees and getting back in touch with nature. She educated herself and then went back to her country to show girls that they can too educate themselves and work for the common good. If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it’s certainly Wangari.
This book is a little different than Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson
in that Mama Miti focuses mostly on how women came from all over Kenya to ask Wangari for help. Her advice was to plant certain types of trees to take care of the problems the women were having. If the woman complained of a lack of food, Wangari told her to plant a tree and gave her seeds. If the woman complained of the cattle being sick, Wangari told her to plant a certain type of tree with leaves that cure disease. Mama Miti shows how nature can really provide and make a difference, and how strong women can also take care of themselves–especially with a little guidance from someone as knowledgeable and loving as Wangari Maathai.
This book also has wonderful illustrations by Kadir Nelson and resources and author’s notes in the back as well as a glossary of Kikuyu terms, which are used throughout the book.
Why share Mama Miti with your students or children? Use this book to start a discussion about how people can take care of themselves and maybe with a little help–it reminds me of the organization, Heifer International. You can also talk about the importance of planting trees and taking care of nature as well as going green tips. This book can also bring up a history lesson about how much people used to rely on nature, crops, and so on in the past when there weren’t grocery stores to visit or farmers growing food for all of us. You can also use this book to teach about a strong and wonderful woman who can be a role model for young girls all around the world.